Vijay Amritraj: I think Prajnesh is poised to be in top-50

As the Road to Wimbledon kicks off its sixth edition in India, Amritraj – associated with the programme since its inception -- spoke on world tennis and what he thinks Indian tennis needs to grow.

Vijay Amritraj remains the strongest Indian voice on the international tour.   -  Special Arrangement

Vijay Amritraj hung up his racquet long back but his association with tennis remains as strong as ever. Only the second Indian to ever break into world's top-20 in singles, Amritraj remains the strongest Indian voice on the international tour.

As the Road to Wimbledon kicks off its sixth edition in India and remains a way for youngsters to get a chance to play at the historic venue, Amritraj – associated with the programme since its inception -- spoke to Sportstar on world tennis and what he thinks Indian tennis needs to grow.

Six years on, how do you see the Road to Wimbledon programme developing in Asia and India in particular?

When we were playing, the only two reasons to play this game was to play Wimbledon and the Davis Cup. For us, London was so far away, it was a far-fetched dream to even think about it.

Today, Wimbledon is coming to your doorstep. The important aspect here is to see what your goal can look like, have the believe in yourself, to give you the work ethic to fulfil your dream.

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This will be my 50th year at Wimbledon without missing a year and even today I get goosebumps when I walk through SW 19. I want that feeling in boys and girls, to be there at any cost.

Andy Murray has called time on his career and the other three – Federer, Nadal, Djokovic – aren't getting any younger. But there doesn't seem to be any serious contender to their legacy. Do you think the era of one to two players dominating is over?

First of all, you have to take these three out of the equation because we are not going to see, in my generation, another three like them together.

You will have winners come along like, like Marin Cilic at US Open or Kei Nishikori or Stan Wawrinka who won the French Open (he also won Australian Open and US Open) — there will be upsets and sporadic wins and there is this whole bunch in top-25 that will create confusion.

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But there is a long way to go before putting them in the same basket. What tennis has had over years is rivalries but rarely have we had rivalries between three to four guys. The era of domination is over. These three have more than 50 Grand Slam titles between them, that is ludicrous to even think about! They will leave only when they get hurt.

The 'who next' question continues in Indian tennis. We haven't had a serious singles contender after the Krishnans and the Amritrajs. What is your take on that?

The best we have had are all doubles players and, frankly speaking, you start playing the game to win as many singles. Everything else is secondary, it won't put you in the World Group (in Davis Cup).

The only thing we need to have in this country is singles players. I haven't had one guy yet come to me and say I need tickets to Wimbledon to watch doubles on Court 13.

That's why I was excited to see Prajnesh (Gunneswaran) at Indian Wells this week. I think he is poised to be in top-50. This is the closest we have had to someone even knocking on those doors. If he gets there, he will have a huge advantage to stay there. He will need 3-4 decent tournaments a year because the points structure is such.


It is hard for me to say this but we do need both boys and girls to get into top-50 and give it all and not quit at 21 or 22 years because the results haven't come. Considering the number of players who play tennis, our pool is quite small.